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Face of Defense: Son Inspires Marine to Succeed

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Daniel Boothe
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Feb. 26, 2010 – Inspired by his son, a noncommissioned officer here shattered the glass roof of his dream by wrestling his way to the top.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Inspired by his son, Marco, left, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ignacio Ramirezlazos qualified to wrestle in the world championships. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel Boothe
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“It’s pretty hard to be a single dad in the Marine Corps,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ignacio Ramirezlazos, training staff noncommissioned officer for the Installation Personnel Administration Center. “I did it to set the example for my son and to show him that the patience and discipline wrestling teaches you will get you a long way.”

Ramirezlazos’s championship journey began in February 2007, after criticism from his son rekindled his childhood gold medal aspirations. Seven-year-old Marco was competing in a local tournament when his father expressed disappointment in his performance.

“I remember telling him to stop slacking and give it more effort,” Ramirezlazos said. “He had pinned the kid several times before, and was close to beating him again.”

After the match, Marco stopped, turned to his father and said, “You are not the one out there wrestling.” Ignacio fell silent. From then on, Ramirezlazos said, he knew he would have to lead by example.

Ramirezlazos joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, and was now returning to the mat 15 years later. The former high school wrestler began competing at local tournaments and found nothing less than discouragement.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to show up to the next match,” he said. “I was wrestling college students that were fresh from high school.”

He pushed forward though, and spent a majority of 2008 competing at local tournaments, fine-tuning his techniques. At the urging of his friends, Ramirezlazos registered for the 2009 USAA National Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas the following year.

He entered the 152-pound weight class and competed in the Veteran Freestyle and Greco Roman categories. Contenders were scored on the best of three matches. Ignacio lost his first match.

With victory now unlikely and nothing to lose, he dominated his next opponent. Ramirezlazos continued into the finals, and after a riveting first-round rematch, he won the wrestling championship for his weight class. This win qualified him in both categories for the Olympic World Wrestling Championship competitions in Turkey and Sweden.

Ramirezlazos was unable to attend the Olympic wrestling competitions, but the 34-year-old NCO is OK with that. Just being able to say he made it, he said, was enough for himself and his son.

“It’s awesome that my dad made it to the world championship,” Marco said. “I hope one day I can make it there too.”

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Daniel Boothe serves at Camp Pendleton, Calif.)

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